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June 3, 2021

Burnout in the Bible


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Bible hero experienced burnout

Did you know that even Biblical prophets experienced burnout? The prophet Elijah suffered some very serious burnout after Jezebel had him chased into the wilderness. Alone and fearing for his life, Elijah found a cave to hide in. He was dissatisfied with his work and depressed. Elijah wasn’t doing anything wrong and he wasn’t being idle. Rather, he had been focused on a difficult assignment for a long time—he was just depleted. He called to God; “I have zealously served the Lord God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” 1 Kings 19:10 He felt like he was the only one left doing God’s work and he couldn’t sustain himself.

Elijah replenished

During this time, God sent angels to minister to Elijah and bring him replenishment. He allowed Elijah to rest and recover before reminding him that he wasn’t alone. “Elijah, there are 700 others going through the same thing”. After encouragement and rest, Elijah returned to his work with his assignment clarified in his mind and a bigger sense of purpose. He went on to mentor Elisha to continue his work.


Rest is key to reinvigoration

Just before burnout, I felt really dissatisfied and alone, that I wasn’t good enough, that my work wasn’t good enough (even though to the world, I was and it was). These feelings are a symptom of running out of steam.

Sometimes, we just need to step away, to hide out in our cave, so to speak. If you feel like you have to hide, talk to God. The Lord can come with a still, small voice and give you a new sense of purpose, and reinvigorate your assignment. Let God speak to you, spend time with God and rest.

This is also a time to be with people who care about you and maybe seek professional help to discover what motivates you, what can heal and make you feel content again.

Reflection Question:

  • Have you lost a sense of purpose and assignment? Where do you feel stuck in life?
  • What are your goals in life? Being healthy? Feeling happy? Being faithful?
  • What are the potential goals that God has for you? How can you find out?

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